FRI & SAT | MOE. at OGDEN THEATRE | 12/6-12/7 The latest studio album from moe., 2012's What Happened to the LA LA's, features the kind of lengthy improvisations and folk-rock structures that made the Buffalo natives such hits in the jam-band scene starting in 1989. The group's live shows have also stuck to well-established patterns, spanning several nights and featuring a mix of old, new and borrowed material: The group is just as apt to play extended versions of tunes from 1996's No Doy or a cover of a Pink Floyd cut as it is to stick to songs from its latest record.
Still, as established as the quintet is, for those paying attention, the outfit's recent effort shows signs of creative growth: LA LA's marked moe.'s first release of entirely new tunes since 2008, just as it represented the band's first collaboration with an independent producer. That kind of creative evolution is bound to have an impact on the group's live dynamic.
SAT | ¡MAYDAY! at CASSELMAN'S | 12/7/13 From one of hip-hop's most beloved independent labels, Strange Music, comes ¡Mayday!, an act that's been making noise in Miami since 2006, and whose music is much more than just hip-hop. Although the high-minded, heartfelt and technically masterful rapping of Wrekonize -- clearly influenced by Tech N9ne's fast-paced style -- is certainly featured, it's the combination of that rapping with eclectic and exciting production from Plex Luthor that sets ¡Mayday!'s music apart from anything else you'll hear in the current musical landscape. The group bends genres so naturally that you could mistake its music for pop, but there's nothing formulaic about what ¡Mayday! is doing. Last year's Take Me to Your Leader was called the best release ever to come from Strange Music by co-founder Travis O'Guin, and this year's Believers has been welcomed with even more critical attention and fanfare.
SUN | SUICIDAL TENDENCIES at FOX THEATRE | 12/8/13 Suicidal Tendencies first attracted attention with its song "Institutionalized," which originally appeared on the act's self-titled 1983 debut and then later made its way onto the Repo Man soundtrack. While the outfit's next record, 1987's Join the Army, firmly established the band as a crossover act, altering its earlier punk sound with the thrash-guitar style of Rocky George, it was 1992's The Art of Rebellion, that really brought the group to the attention of a wider audience, when "Nobody Hears" became something of a left-field hit. Continuously led by Mike Muir, a vocalist who has never stuck to a narrow range of vocal techniques, Suicidal Tendencies -- which issued its thirteenth album in 2013, the fittingly titled 13 -- is still a compelling live act all these years on.
FRI | DEVIN THE DUDE at ROXY THEATRE | 12/6/13 Devin the Dude was born in Florida, but he moved to Texas when he was young and eventually became a part of the famed Houston label Rap-A-Lot Records, which helped put Southern hip-hop on the map with the Geto Boys. Devin ended up being Rap-A-Lot's longest signed act. Although he started his career mostly as a member of groups like Facemob and the Odd Squad, he would eventually lead a long-lasting solo career consisting of seven albums to date. In contrast to many of the gangsta rappers on Rap-A-Lot, Devin was known for his laid-back flow and the relaxed way he saw the world, which he observed through grass-tinted glasses.
SUN | WANDA JACKSON at E-TOWN HALL | 12/8/13 Although she started out as a country singer, it didn't take Wanda Jackson long to learn the ways of rock and roll though some encouragement of a young Elvis Presley. Just out of high school, Jackson toured with Elvis during the mid '50s and soon became the first lady of rock and roll and rockabilly. While she started recording country and gospel albums in the '60s and the '70s, she returned to rockabilly after being invited to play in Scandinavia and Europe in the '80s. More recently, Jackson teamed up with Jack White, who produced her latest effort, The Party Ain't Over. The album includes some revved up takes on classics like "Rip it Up" and "Nervous Breakdown," a cover of Bob Dylan's "Thunder on the Mountain" and Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good."
FRI | EVERLAST at MARQUIS THEATER | 12/6/13 Perhaps better known for his feud with Eminem and his membership in House of Pain than his career as a solo artist, Whitey Ford nevertheless has a resume that can't be ignored. He won a Grammy for "Put Your Lights On" with Carlos Santana and boasts a multi-platinum album in Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. Everlast skirts the line between alternative hip-hop and something much nearer to rock and roll or blues, but the hip-hop influence on his musical sensibility, songwriting and lyrical phrasing is obvious and he frequently works with some of the genre's most well-respected members. Everlast is also performing at Belly Up Aspen on Saturday, December 7.
FRI | THE WOOD BROTHERS at FOX THEATRE | 12/6/13 In addition to his Medeski Martin & Wood duties, Chris Wood is half of the Wood Brothers, an act that pairs him with his older brother, vocalist/guitarist Oliver. Appropriately, this side project allows Chris to show, well, another side of himself. Rather than clone the jazzy vibe of his longtime group, the Brothers' debut, Ways Not to Lose, offers a bluesy blend that's naturally boosted by genetics.
FRI | THIRD EYE BLIND at GOTHIC THEATRE | 12/6/13 In 1997, Third Eye Blind was arguably the biggest band in the world. Led by Stephan Jenkins, the band's popularity exploded in the wake of its first single, "Semi-Charmed Life," and the steady stream of hits that followed. Despite being marketed under the umbrella of "alternative," the band's paradigm could not have been any more conventional in terms of accessibility. Which is to say, Third Eye Blind is a master of pop. The dust had settled from the epic Brit-pop-versus-grunge war of the '90s, and Jenkins rose from the rubble dabbling in a little of this and a little of that. Though it has never approached the wild acclaim of that first album, 3EB has chugged along steadily, slowly releasing records and constantly touring.
SAT | MUSHROOMHEAD at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 12/7/13 Mushroomhead is rarely mentioned in the mainstream music media, and if it is mentioned, it's usually because it's being compared to Slipknot. Not that the comparisons don't make sense: Both bands are similar-sounding seven-piece groups in creepy masks. Except Mushroomhead has been around since 1993 (Slipknot was formed in '95), and its sound is closer to a fusion of Slipknot, Disturbed and whatever Jeffrey Dahmer probably listened to in his apartment. Originally a side project for several Cleveland-area musicians, Mushroomhead was playing in front of 2,000 people alongside GWAR by the time it had booked a second show. Over seven albums that combine industrial metal, hip-hop, goth and punk, the band has sold almost a million units worldwide.
SAT | THE DENDRITES (CD RELEASE) at MARQUIS THEATER | 12/7/13 Formed in 2003 as a side project of the more ska-punk-oriented the Disasterbators, the Dendrites became a primary concern when the band's members became more interested in the roots of ska, particularly artists from the late '50s and the '60s. The all-instrumental band soon made a name for itself with the infectious energy that it brought to its music, along with the expressive, almost narrative quality to its sound that set it apart from its peers. The latest release from the Dendrites, Fly Casual, has a richly detailed sound and an emotional coloring that gives it a soulful feel, though it remains up-tempo. In some ways, the album is akin to a warm lounge-jazz record, but the tunes are bright rather than dark.
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